Excerpt from

"What Does Torah Mean?

by Cheryle Holeman

Information on ordering the book is available at the end of the testimony. (Designed as a book for beginners just exploring word studies and Jewish roots materials.)

Dear Ones,

Perhaps the hardest lesson to "unlearn" as you begin your studies is that Torah does not mean 'law' as the church in 1994 defines it. I learned this lesson in Texas at a seminar one weekend and I cried my way out of there. Just before I left my pastor had cautioned me not to believe everything that I heard, and that I was responsible to "check it out for myself." I could sit in services and hear preaching and what I thought was "teaching" at that time, but in the end God was going to hold me accountable for what I had learned. Once I had the knowledge then I must walk in that knowledge. I thought that I knew the Bible and my pastor had always teased me from the pulpit about how "Cheryle always has two books and three tapes running all the time so she can study to show herself approved." Yet in this seminar they asked me if I owned a STRONG'S or a GESENIUS or a THAYERS or an interlinear BIBLE? I had no idea what these were! Then they asked me if I had ever checked my pastor's sermons out? I asked, "Would I dare? And how do I do that?" They suggested that I purchase these reference books, and especially a new Bible called HEBREW GREEK KEY STUDY BIBLE which had the STRONGS numbers right beside the main words in the scripture and then some definitions in the back of the Bible. Then they said to take those scriptures home and check those numbers out in the GESENIUS HEBREW CONCORDANCE and the THAYERS GREEK CONCORDANCE.

So I decided to start with all the scriptures that had Torah in them (I have included them for you in the book). I made the commitment to really study this out for myself. Won't you? How dare they say that Torah doesn't mean 'law' like my pastor and others said! I would prove them wrong. I decided not to complain to my pastor or anyone else, because he would probably talk me out of even looking it up for myself. I knew in my spirit that I would be responsible for this learning experience, because it had upset me so much! If I cared enough to cry and fret, then God wanted to prove to me Himself What it meant!

So I started with the Bible. I read the verses IN CONTEXT instead of out, and what I discovered amazed me! The Torah existed BEFORE Mt.Sinai! With the readings I could see that Torah meant "instructions or teachings of God"! I looked up the definitions in the STRONGS and the other books, and sure enough they had made a mistake! In the Garden of Eden God gave Instructions to Adam and Eve and then they ignored those instructions! So the concept of the Torah was even there!

Then I looked at Noah! He had Instructions, too! Down to the finest detail! He knew what was a clean animal and what wasn't. I had been taught that it was only in the Torah at Mt. Sinai!

Then I read about Abraham. He had a relationship with God that changed his life, and God gave him Instructions, too. I examined the sacrifice of Isaac! Yes, God gave Abraham Instructions and provided a ram for the sacrifice!

Then I looked at Exodus. There I saw that God gave Moses Instructions and every time, those instructions were given it was to preserve and protect! It was amazing! If the Israelites hadn't followed Moses Instructions that God gave him, they would never have made it out of Egypt. And then I noticed that the Israelites loved to complain about the Instructions! How like them we are!

Then one day I got in my car and I put on my seat belt, and a light came on! Why did I put on my seat belt? Because it was the "law" of Kansas! But, why did I follow that "law"? Wasn't the "law" bad? That, was what my pastor was saying! "If you follow the 'law' then you are following a list of rules and regulations that restrict, and bind your freedom." But now as I put on my seat belt I had to ask myself, "Were all laws bad?" NO! They weren't! Suddenly I saw them in a new light! The seat belt did "restrict and bind my freedom." Yes, it did! I should have the choice to wear one or not! But, the State of Kansas said, "No, this law, will save your life, Cheryle, and I am making it to protect your life." If I didn't wear it, I could die!

What happened in the Garden of Eden? If Adam and Eve didn't follow the-seat belt of God, they would die! And they did! Down through the ages God gave us "seat belts" to save our lives! Noah was given the Instructions of God to save his life ---and everyone else's--- but everyone ignored the actions and chose to die instead! Oh, my God! I had listened to a man and not to God! I needed to check it out further....

So I re-examined Exodus. I read it carefully. I saw that sometimes God's Law or Instructions--looked ridiculous to man, but they always protected! Just as a small child needed protection God gave us instructions to protect us! I looked at Exodus 19 and I saw God taking the Israelites to Mt. Sinai and giving them the Torah. But then I decided to back up and read Exodus 18 and I was surprised! There in Exodus 18 was Moses sitting and making judgements over quarrels and decisions according to some kind of rules. The rules pre-existed? Yes! They did! And Moses father-in-law advised him to get help instead of doing it all by himself. Then others must have known of these laws or Moses wouldn't have trusted others! I kept reading....

Then what was the difference between Exodus 18 and Exodus 19? 1 read the whole account and guess what I found out? The difference was that God wrote the Instructions or Laws down at Mt. Sinai!!! That was the difference! Now why would God do that? I thought for a while .... then it came to me! Because then the Israelites couldn't mess them up! They had no room to make error if they were written down for them to see! That was why God said not to change a "jot or tittle"! Then they couldn't blow it! It was like a Driver's Examination Book! They had to read the book and then take the test -- only it was "an open Book test"!!!! You chuckle now, but to me it was freedom from everything! I rejoiced.' I danced and cried and understood so many things now! I was excited!

I reread the parts about the Exodus again, and I suddenly remembered my Egyptian history. Israelites were slaves. They were not literate! In the Egyptian culture the Israelites were not taught to read and write! Only the elite or certain people could read and write! God took an illiterate mob of Hebrew slaves out in the desert for 40 years, and what did they do? They couldn't read and write when they went into the desert, but God through his servants taught them to read and write Hebrew! Not Egyptian, but Hebrew! A whole other language! They didn't have to work much, but all they did was serve God and learn to read and write! This must please God then! Why? To restrict and memorize useless rules and regulations? No! To preserve their lives in what lay ahead! To change them from a group of tribes into a nation! HIS CHOSEN NATION!

I remembered that people in our society today sometimes don't like rules and regulations that the government made. These are known as criminals when they broke the laws. They are killers, rapists, thieves, and child molesters. No one wanted them in their society, so they are put in jail and disciplined according to the "law of the land." Are Christians required to follow the laws of the USA? Yes! Did the Jewish people follow the laws of Rome? Yes! They were only exempted when the laws of the foreign country prevented them to worship God or practiced their religion! That was the case with the Maccabees and Hanukkah!

So is it not "law." When we break it, we become outlaws from His land and His blessings! I read Deuteronomy and saw the blessing and cursings in a whole new light! Then I decided that I wanted to read all of the commandments and check them out for myself so I began with the Ten Commandments.

Everyone "says" that they believe in the Ten Commandments today, right? If we believe in Ten then why not the rest? That was a good question! My pastor tried to make excuses about how we needed to live by these Ten, but not the rest. Had we permission from God to pick and choose which ones we believed in or not? Nope! I couldn't see where He had changed His Mind! Even Jesus said, "He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself in him." Sounded good to me, so I decided that I wanted to read the commandments for myself. Surely God would show me what to do from here.

All this time I had searched and studied and again and again my pastor kept saying, Torah means 'law' in his sermons. It really grated on me to hear that when I knew that in the concept of 33 A.A. "Torah" did not have the same concept that it did in 1994. It was changed!

A concept is an idea and men try to explain it as best they can. In 1611 the translators of the King James Bible tried to translate the Bible from Greek into English. So I decided to check them out, too, and what I found was a bunch of politicians telling the translators what to say! It was a very interesting bunch of people who wanted to put it in that days "English" with their rules and understandings justified. Remember in Hebrews where it says, "You shall not forsake the assembly of the Saints"? Well, in Greek it says, "You shall not for sake the synagogue!" Big difference, so I started looking "synagogue" up, too, and found that in the New Testament (Actually in Greek it isn't 'New but "Second Testament" by the way!), "synagogue" is changed to "church" and "assembly" when it concerned the Christians, but when it concerned Jews or Satan it remained "synagogue." Talk about Anti-Semitism by the Translators! I looked at many things, and I have included many things in my book for beginners titled WHAT DOES TORAH MEAN? Read them straight through. Look at your library and check out things for yourself But once you let go of the concept of "under the law" you will realize that there is no burden in the Torah! It was meant as a way to present the Messiah Yeshua to us. In John I we read that Yeshua is the Word and the Word became flesh and dwelt among us. But we haven't been presented this picture of the Word accurately. He has been covered over and lied about! He-doesn't want us "under Him" but beside Him as His Bride! We must prepare for His coming and understand His culture, His language, His ways!

So then a friend shared this with me by the name of Bob Edwards--a Baptist teacher: You will also see this on our site, too.

WHAT IS "TORAH?"

Much of our study will originate from within the Torah, or what Christians commonly refer to as the "Pentateuch". Strictly speaking, Torah refers to the first five books of the Bible, written by Moshe (Moses); however, over time the term "Torah" has generally taken on the connotation of referring to the entire First Covenant (old Testament). Tanakh (Ta-nack is how you pronounce it) is the more proper term for the Hebrew Bible (equivalent to the Christian Bibles Old Testament). This term is an acrostic formed from the Hebrew letters "taw"(t), "nun" (n), and "kaph"(k), which stand for the three main divisions of the Hebrew Bible: The Torah (Law or Instructions), the Nevi'im (Prophets), and the Ketuvim (Writings).

Well, now we have an idea of where the Torah is found in the Bible, but if it Is only one of three sections, how did it get a connotation of referring to the whole Bible? Doesn't it mean "law"'? Actually, this is one of the most important points of our entire study: a proper understanding of the concept of "Torah". A better translation of this term would be "Instruction." Torah represents the embodiment of, what God would have us learn of Him. It comes from the Hebrew word "varsh" which is an archery term meaning "to shoot", or "to take aim" and conveys the concept of "pointing out" (as if by "aiming" the finger), "teaching, or "instructing". This can be verified by referencing the Strongs Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible (Hebrew glossary #8451, and then from there further referenced to 43384) and;"or the Gesenius Hebrew-Chaidee Lexicon. (Both books can be ordered from a Christian bookstore if you don't already own one. They will be necessary for your studies.)

So if it means "instruction", then how did it get translated "law"? Good question. When Torah was translated from Hebrew into Greek in the Septuagint, the Greeks didn't have a word for "instruction" that quite matched the concepts embodied by Torah by the Hebrews so they used the closest Greek counterpart, the term "nomos", which means literally "to parcel out", with secondary meanings of "principle" and "law, or regulation". From there, the Greek was translated into English using the "law" definition. Sadly enough, our Western mind set has taken this term "law" quite literally and we have come to the erroneous conclusion that it refers to "legalistic regulations no longer in force." Even worse, this concept is propagated Sunday, after Sunday in pulpits across the land and in the teachings of many of our seminaries. This error has led to another tragic misunderstanding: that the New Testament has superscede the Old Testament! Nothing could be further from the truth! The New Testament clarifies the Old (First) and expounds upon the teachings of God! As one wise theologian has said: the Old Testament is the New Testament concealed, and the New Testament is the Old Testament revealed." God didn't change His mind in the middle of the story; He merely made more concrete (with the sending of the Messiah) some of the more abstract concepts of the Old Testament.

Needless to say this is a complex subject and one that could easily fill several volumes. Let me share these scriptures with you to help:

1.) Yeshua (Jesus) said: "Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. For verily I say unto you, Til heaven and earth pass, one jot or tittle shall in no wise pass from the Torah, till all be fulfilled." Matt. 5: 17-18

2.) "And when they heard it, they glorified the Lord, and said unto him, Thou seest, brother, how many thousand of Jews there are which believe; and they are all zealous of the Torah (law)."

Acts 21:20 (note this is after the ascension) (Also note that these are Jewish believers in Yeshua who are STILL zealous of the Torah. They haven't dropped the Torah and it's teachings! And they are still in the Temple every day if you will read the whole section!)

3.) "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction- for instruction in righteousness." 11 Timothy 3:16 (note that at the time this was, written, it referred only to the Old Testament; the New was not yet complete- nor codified.)

4.) Every reference made by Jesus and the apostles came from the Old Testament. As was pointed out above, the New was not yet written!

5.) Jewish New Testament translation: For the goal at which the Torah aims is the Messiah, who offers righteousness to everyone who trusts. Romans 10:4 (Now read this in your Bible! Dynamite, huh?)

Contrary to popular belief, there were not two methods of righteousness: law for the Old Testament saints and grace for the Church. Salvation was, is, and always shall be by grace through faith. Even Avraham (Abraham), the father of the Jewish people knew that:

"And he (Abraham) believed in the Lord; and He counted it to him for righteousness."Genesis 15:6

Faith or "confidence" in the Lord is the means of justification before God, and the Torah instructs us how to walk- in this faith. How to raise our families, how to eat for our health, and how to know God is also explained.

-Thank you, Bob.

Now, lets look at the word and idea of "concept". Remember the movie BACK TO THE FUTURE? We all know it well, and perhaps you need to check it out from a video store again for review. Michael J. Fox goes from today back to the 1950's. His clothes don't fit. His speech is different, too! He goes into a drug store (that is even different as we don't have soda fountains in ours today) and he orders a Pepsi Free. The guy says, "You will have to pay for it like everyone else." Michael says, "Give me a Tab." The man says, "You will get a tab when you leave." So, Micael finally save, "Give me something to drink without sugar." So the guy gives him coffee, Michael said everything right, but the concepts weren't there in the 1950's!

So what am I trying to say? This study that you are embarking on into studying the First Century Congregations requires you to put on different clothes, learn new concepts, and to learn some new words. You will have to study history of many civilizations and cultures. You will have to learn to "chase rabbits" from one source to another. You will have to cry tears of frustration. You will have to make phone calls to teachers in the middle of the night to get questions answered! You will have to buy books. You will have to be willing to loose friends, but at the same time you will be given new friends, too. I'm just warning you up front'. This is not popular with the general population, and families don't like changes either.

We are not legalistic in saying that you MUST believe the way we believe. We are just saying that you will need to study things for yourself. If you won't then no one will make you.

Remember how when you were a small child your mother gave you everything that you needed. She became your whole world! You wouldn't let her out of your sight! Then one day she sat you down and you started missing her so you started to cry and throw a temper tantrum? Well, she was right there all the time! But you wanted her. Well, she came back and calmed you down. Then one day you learned to go a little longer without her. But when you wanted her again you cried and threw a temper tantrum until she came. She calmed you down and spoke sharply to you perhaps. But in your mind you thought, "Hey, I know how to get my way. I just start to cry and throw a tantrum and then I get what I want."

Well, after awhile she got tired of it and let you cry. You didn't like it, but after a while you stopped. You looked at yourself and discovered that you were okay physically and you had all those toys to play with! So you shut up and started being happy again and became independent. Then you got older and wanted to go to school like the big kids! You could hardly wait! You wanted to learn to read and do the things the big kids did! The big kids and Mom were supportive and off you went to school. But when you got there it wasn't like you thought! They didn't teach you to read in one day! You cried! "I want to go home!" you cried. But the teacher made you hang in there until it was time. You went home, and realized that Mom was still there, and you were safe and you thought about school as a place with neat toys to play with' So you took a deep breath and went back to school. And in a few months you were reading and learning just like the big kids!

Why did I tell you that story? Because you will see your Christian walk there. You got everything that you wanted when you were first saved just like the small child. When you wanted more God was right there for you. But over the time things changed. God let you grow up. One day you were in Kindergarten unable to read, and then one day you were sitting in second or third grade and suddenly realized that you had learned to read and could read anything that you wanted! The tears were gone, and you were older. Now you are sitting in that Kindergarten class relearning LOTS of new things including a Hebrew alphabet and words! You may be overwhelmed and unwilling to change. You want your way, but the teacher says, " This word is Torah. It doesn't mean 'law' in this language of Hebrew. In this culture of 2000 years ago in a far away land on the other side of the world they thought of Torah as Instructions' or things pointed out for us to learn to live in harmony with the people and the things around us. Now students, repeat after me, "Torah does not mean law". Okay?

It may seem hard now, but if you will really look on yourself as stepping out of 1994 and into 30 A.A. with the apostles you will see yourself wearing new clothes, attending their services, Worshiping differently, eating new foods, and all to learn of the Messiah Yeshua. Start calling Jesus Yeshua right now. That will help you with your time change, too. After all we are close friends of the family, and we would have called Him by His Hebrew name since "J" is not part of that alphabet at all. We want to show you about His time, His people and His desires for you in the proper light of the scriptures. If you will look carefully you will see a man dressed differently than you are when you of Yeshua. He wants you to come closer and to deepen your relationship with Him. After all He is a Jewish bridegroom and you are His bride. Don't you think- that you need to learn how to spend time with Him ?

So what will happen? Who knows for sure! Everyone who has continued to a year of study--and I mean study-says the same thing: "Thank you, God!" Within a few weeks they see that they are not subject to the ups and downs of their usual Christian lives, and a new steadfastness comes. They hear from God easier. They learn the temper tantrums often don't work, but all of a sudden they are walking where they wanted to be all along' They understand prayer better, and are amazed at the new blessings that come. God never decreases! He always increases! If you turn back we often see those come back to us and begin again. The Spirit of God wooes the Bride, but she has choices just like the story of the ten virgins. Will you hang in there while you study and learn for a year, or will you listen to lots of Job's wives that are going to come out of the woodwork at you. The decision is yours. We want to help and will be here for you.

So, call or write anytime. Sometimes you just need a friend across the miles. We want to be that friend-we are HaY'Did Ministries. HaY'Did means friend in Hebrew. How do you pronounce it? Hey! Y Did! Just like it looks! Now dig in and "study to show yourself approved." One of the highest forms of worship in the Jewish faith is study Have you seen the movie, "Stranger Among Us" with Melanie Griffith vet? It is about a New York policewoman who goes to the Jewish community to investigate a disappearance. She has culture shock and has to move into the community to find the answers. There is some violence so you may want to preview it before showing it to younger children, but it will show you so much about the Jewish life style. Also recheck "Fiddler on the Roof' and enjoy! The public library may have the PBS series on THE HISTORY OF THE JEWS in their Civilization video section. It is nine hours of excellent history on the times of Yeshua and the Jewish nation by Abba Ebba. If your library doesn't have the series, they can get them on loan from another library. Also you may want to view the rest of the Civilization Series on the different empires. If you begin to understand and see the different time and peoples it will help. We've all been there and hope that you will feel free to call or write.

Okay, that's the introduction to the book WHAT DOES TORAH MEAN? by Cheryle Holeman. Now let me describe what is in the book:

  1. Personal Testimony (you just read)
  2. Lesson by Jessie Hill
  3. Lesson from the Theological Wordbook from Moody Bible Insitute on "Torah"
  4. The 613 Commandments Listed for your review
  5. Article on Marcion---the Heretic who centuries ago declared that following torah was bad
  6. Another article on Marcion from a Religious Encyclopedia
  7. Torah Word Study from Gensenius and Thayers
  8. Article on Law and Grace from a Messianic Magazine
  9. Torah article from the Jewish Encyclopedia

So, in other words you will get to see some of the evidence that Torah means Instruction instead of Law. This book has gone into so many Bible studies across the country and been well received. One Bible Study decided to make copies of the 613 Commandments and spend their time reading and discussing them for about 6 weeks. They found out that about 171 of the Commandments applied today! And they discovered that the BIG TEN were really just the categories that the other commandments were divided up into! Kind of like a Table of Contents to help us remember the rest. Then the Mishnah (Oral Torah) helps tell us HOW to do the Commandments, and there is where Christians need to be careful. Remember that Peter, Paul, James and John knew Yeshua and gave us the New Testament to help us judge what and how we were to walk out the commandments. We are to use them in our walk. The rabbis who decided what was to be preserved in the Mishnah did not know Yeshua or Peter or Paul or any of the disciples, and sometimes their "fences" around the commandments don't line up with the New Testament. Not everything that is Jewish is Biblical, okay? BUT everything Biblical is VERY Jewish. But the Judaism of today is NOT the same as it was 2000 years ago. So we have to shake off the dust and sift through everything whether it is Jewish or Christian or Messianic. Such a deal! But we have to be aware of a balance that they had 2000 years ago that we all want, right? And if we are careful and balanced then we will become that Light unto the Nations. So are you game? If so, then drop us a line at HaY'Did. We look forward to hearing from you! Cheryle Holeman

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